Report of the Duffus Commission of Inquiry into the Breakdown of Law & Order, and Police Brutality in Grenada

Part IV

Events Subsequent to November 18, 1973

Paragraphs 182 thru 183. - The evidence of Hon. Eric Matthew Gairy

[Part C]

182. The demonstrations organised by the unions had commenced on January 9, 1974. Mr. Gairy had received information that stores owned by Syrians, which had remained open, were caused to be closed by the demonstrators. He said this:

"People . . . Well, during the period. During the demonstrations actually, they were closing stores. They closed the Amado what you call it and said the Syrians must learn sense they can't open when demonstrations are passing and they closed them in. They wanted to beat certain store owners and lots of things like that occurred during demonstrations and lots of people had to close their buildings because they were afraid of the things that were being said even by school children because the school children were given permission, as a matter of fact to demonstrate, hundreds and hundreds of them in their uniform and lots of things happened that were very ugly. Perhaps too ugly to repeat in here."

Mr. Gairy felt strongly about the involvement of school children in the demonstrations. He must also have become aware that members of the New Jewel Movement were participating in the demonstrations; and in his opinion the strike called by the two unions was an illegal strike. Moreover, as he said "We were aiming at having Independence at all cost as you can see and you the Jewel could not stop it." It was his belief that the New Jewel Movement was subversive and that the demonstrations were calculated to prevent Independence. He said this:

"And when I heard this . . . and he further said "don't you see that everything we ask Mr. Gairy for he is giving it. Everything we ask Mr. Gairy for he is granting it. Don't you see that there is a trick in it. He wants the Independence to come off." Yes. I wanted the Independence to come off. So I got the impression that he (Eric Pierre) himself and the majority of them with whom he spoke were motivated by a desire to stall the Independence and what ever I did, as a matter of fact, the Government of Grenada and the people of Grenada felt that I was yielding too much. Every single thing that the Committee asked for we granted and we did. Every single thing, but that did not satisfy the Committee. You wanted the Government to resign and you had demonstrators shouting we must resign until you upset the Governor and got her to resign. As a matter of fact, and the other thing was to stop the Independence."

183. Altogether, these were the considerations which prompted the recall of the police aides and the question which unavoidably arises is - What was it that the police aides were required to do after being recalled? We have closely perused the evidence of Mr. Gairy on this point. It was not a question that any police officer attempted to answer. The only purpose stated by Mr. Gairy is contained in a passage of his evidence already quoted -

"and I called the aides and from them we selected a few of the aides with the hope that the businessmen who came to me voluntarily will join in a volunteer corps and this also is in keeping with what I did in 1970 when we had the Black Power Movement."

The only specific instruction he gave them according to him was this -

"I specifically told the men to go down to the Esplanade to Georgi Salhab for lunch. I specifically told them - "Do you get in any conflict with the Jewel or the demonstrators."

The evidence of Mr. Gairy disclosed that the journey from Mount Royal to Georgi's might be undertaken by two separate routes. One shorter than the other. If the police aides who had assembled at Mount Royal had been made to take the shorter route they would have avoided the Carenage and no riot might have occurred. They were not directed to do so. They were merely told "to go down to the Esplanade to Georgi Salhab for lunch." In fact, they chose the longer route from Mount Royal and thus placed themselves in a position of confrontation with the demonstrators. There was no evidence to show that any of them eventually went to Georgi's for lunch either on that day or at any subsequent time.

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